This is the larger part of the Zhongyong, THE ‘CONSTANT PIVOT’, a core scripture of the Confucian school, less well-known that the Analects. These four books comprised the quadrivium studied by any aspiring Chinese youth, along with The Great Task and the Mencius (Mengzi). The oldest material dates back to the Book of Rites, predating Confucius’ birth in 551 B.C.E. After seventy generations these works are now again finding favour. The Constant Pivot supplies any person, aspiring to govern, with a moral rule against which he can measure ‘integrity’. It supplies The working Confucian with a metaphysic (strange to say). It speaks of the ‘realms beyond’, or numinous, epitomised by the wildness of the river-hawk.
Confucian spirituality is in essence inseparable from reverence – deference to a superior power. Its primary motive is 仁 ren, ‘human-heartedness’ or ‘love’, a very animal instinct. In this sense, Confucius also embraced the Taoist idea of ‘primal’ 元 yuan qi: untamed, unborn, unnamed and unarmed. This was the first Chinese text I ever worked on thirty years ago. 50pp.
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Confucius said: The Way does not stray far from people. If someone attempts a path far from the ways of mankind, it cannot be said to be a true path. In the Book of Odes, it is said: Cutting an axe-handle, Cutting an axe-handle, The pattern is not far off. We must grasp the handle of one axe to hew another. We look from one to the other, but still regard them as apart. In such a manner the true-hearted individual uses the idea of ‘man’ to govern ‘man’, and once he has reformed him, he halts. Trustworthiness and reciprocity do not lie far from the Way. What you do not wish bestowed upon yourself, do not bestow upon others.
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